Here we have a South Korean monster movie set in the same era as the surprisingly great Kingdom (2019), a Korean zombie TV show available on Netflix worldwide.
Monstrum follows Yoon Gyeom, a loyal subject of King Jung Jong of Joseon, who’s been assigned with the mission to find and fight against a monster that threatens the life of farmers. However, there’s a group of rebels led by a high-ranking government officer that wants to use the monster to get rid of Yoon and dethrone the king.
This film has been only released in Korea and China, so far, and had a festival run in Germany, Spain and France. However, thanks to CJ E&M Film Financing & Investment Entertainment & Comics, CJ Entertainment, Frontier Works Comic (the studios behind Monstrum), I’ve had the chance to watch the movie ahead and I’m happy to announce it will be released in North America and part of Europe in 2019.
So, if you’re a fan of foreign cinema and monster movies, look out for Monstrum. The simplest way to describe this film is just like “a lot of fun”. Made on an estimated $8.8 million budget, Monstrum didn’t use this as an excuse to hide the creature until the very end. Instead, halfway through, the monster appears and becomes the main protagonist throughout the remaining of the film.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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My review is also available on IMDb – Monstrum (2018)
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The CGI for the creature ranges from amazing (considering the budget) to PS2 game level for a couple of shots. However, if you can get past those two or three moments where the monster seems very fake, you’ll probably get an exciting and thrilling experience as a reward. Yet, even when the Mulgoe (that’s the name of this giant lion-like creature) isn’t on screen, the stylised and well-choreographed action sequences/fight scenes between humans are quite impressive and entertaining.
The focal point is everything that revolves around the monster, and all of that is extremely fun to watch and entertaining.
However, the first 30 minutes of Monstrum are very dull and uninteresting. My guess is that, due to budget restraints, the filmmakers couldn’t show the monster early on (unlike The Host, a great South Korean monster movie from 2006), therefore they had to fill the runtime with boring dialogues, misplaced and unfunny comedic moments, establishment shots that don’t add anything to the story, and truly bad music.
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Other two aspects that don’t really work are the corny emotions and the lack of consequences for the main characters.
In regard to the first issue, Monstrum tries to make us care for its main characters but, besides them being rather heroic and courageous, there’s nothing to them that separates these characters from the average action hero template. As a result, whenever the movie tries to establish an emotional connection it only breaks the pacing and makes those scenes corny and cheesy.
This is also due to the lack of consequences for the main characters. I don’t want to give away too much, so let’s just say that most of the dangerous situations end up with out protagonists being just a little bit hurt and nothing more. Obviously, this is done to get a PG-13 rating, but the result is lack of genuine tension. How cool would it be to have a rated-R monster movie where even the main characters can be torn apart by the monster’s fangs?
Nevertheless, Monstrum achieves its goal to be a fun, entertaining and action-packed monster movie. If you are able to look past the dull moments and some bad CG effects, you’ll most likely enjoy the film.
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